Archive for Wednesday, April 13, 2011

City of Lawrence agrees to pay $50,000 as part of settlement in medical gas case

Austin Stone, who was injured in a medical gas accident during a 2009 dental procedure, is now a student at the Kansas State School for the Blind. The City of Lawrence has agreed to pay $50,000 as part of a settlement with Stone's family.

Austin Stone, who was injured in a medical gas accident during a 2009 dental procedure, is now a student at the Kansas State School for the Blind. The City of Lawrence has agreed to pay $50,000 as part of a settlement with Stone's family.

April 13, 2011


The city of Lawrence has agreed to pay the family of a 21-year-old Tonganoxie High School graduate $50,000 as part of a settlement for brain damage he suffered during a 2009 dental procedure.

Chief Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild approved the settlement Wednesday afternoon in the lawsuit brought by Austin Stone and his family. Other than the city, the terms of the settlement agreement reached with the remaining parties in the case was confidential, Fairchild and attorneys said.

The suit was filed in 2010 on behalf of Stone and his parents, Tara Passmore and Lance Stone, alleging oxygen and nitrous oxide lines were crossed during the design of Dr. Kirk Vincent’s new oral surgery office at 4811 Bob Billings Parkway.

Related document

Austin Stone-City of Lawrence Settlement ( .PDF )

The recent settlement came after a March mediation session in the case, attorneys said.

Fairchild had already approved a $3 million settlement in January in the case between Stone’s family and Action Plumbing Inc. of Lawrence, which installed medical gas lines at Vincent’s new office.

Stone had visited the office to get four wisdom teeth removed by Vincent on March 30, 2009, but he was injured and had to be hospitalized. He was in a coma after the incident and is now legally blind and has other health issues, according to court documents and past testimony in the case.

Attorney Jerry Cooley said the city was denying liability as part of the settlement.

“It was a case that was a real tragedy. There were wet eyes from lawyers as well as witnesses through the deposition process,” Cooley said. “And the young man has a lifelong alteration in his life. We certainly feel for that, and hopefully the money will go to good use for his well-being, as I know it will.”

The suit alleged the city had a duty to require particular inspections by certain medical gas installation experts. Cooley said since the incident the city has adopted an ordinance requiring a certificate by a certified medical gas inspector be provided to the city before an occupancy permit can be granted.

Other than the city and Vincent, remaining defendants are Patterson Dental Supply Inc. of Topeka; Blanchard Design Group LLC of Lawrence, the project’s architect; general contractor Design Build Collaborative LLC of Lawrence; and mechanical engineers Hoss and Brown Inc. of Lawrence.


Steve Jacob 7 years, 2 months ago

I still don't see how the city is on the hook for this, but if it would cost them thousands for a trial anyway, might as well settle.

kusp8 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm assuming, dangerous I know, that the City is liable because they didn't do proper inspection of the medical equipment setup. IIRC, this occurred a newly built facility and should have JUST been inspected by the City and/or State.

jackpot 7 years, 2 months ago

"The installation of medical gas systems is just one example where building codes rely on contractors to hire qualified private firms to conduct inspections rather than have city inspectors undertake the task. The process is called “third-party verification,” and Chaney and others said the city previously took a hands-off approach to ensuring such private inspections had occurred. " I think the city missed the third party verification. From the other LJW story today.

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 2 months ago

In any instance that the city inspector is not qualified to inspect the type of construction, it is the city's responsibility to call for "special inspections" from a third party. The City of Lawrence didn't, their inspector signed off on the work. That's why they are liable. It would have been money well spent for the good dentist to have hired a private new construction inspector for the entire duration of the project. The city inspectors generally do a good job, but they can't be out there every day.

lonelyboy 7 years, 2 months ago

Can you say City Inspectors not doing there job???

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 2 months ago

Nope, in instances like this, most inspectors are not trained or expected to inspect something as proprietary as medical gas lines. It really isn't their job. BUT, it is their job to say when it isn't their job. Make sense? They need to report what they inspected at the job site and what they didn't inspect. The planning department upon initial review probably should have called for special inspections from the get go. I know it wasn't the policy at the time and have no idea why. Glad that now it is.

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

The city is not really being punished here as they will use tax dollars to pay this. What needed to happen is to make the person(s) who made the mistake pay out of their own pocket otherwise they will learn nothing. Also, it is sad that it took this event to make the proper people do their job. If I had made a mistake this large, I would be fired! Shame on them!

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Action Plumbing settled and agreed to pay $3 million.

gphawk89 7 years, 2 months ago

Weird timing. My little kid was put on nitrous for the first time yesterday for a filling. This case was definitely on my mind and I was more than a little nervous about it.

justoneperson 7 years, 2 months ago

I understand where you're coming from, but the issue is that if you don't include all possible persons/entities worthy of blame, those you do include can point the finger to the group you have not included. Then the question comes back to you, why is this person/entity not on the list of blame?

When you have suits going on with all the possible culprits, you can let the justice system determine the liability of each party involved, each party has a shot to blame other parties, and other parties can demonstrate the degree of their negligence as it contributed to the offense.

I don't think one would want to go through a year (or more) of proceedings just to hear that some outside party you did not include is the negligent party. Then, if you do take them to court they play the same blame game and get off the hook.

It's money, sure. The guy's life has been seriously altered. But also, it's a matter of covering all your bases so you can have a complete, decisive, and quick judgment and start paying medical bills.

Joan Kelly 7 years, 2 months ago

I disagree with the posts questioning the validity of the lawsuit against the city. As stated in the article and reiterated by other posters, the city is liable because they irresponsibly signed off on the inspection which they were not qualified to perform. Lawsuits both provide relief for wrong doings, and encourage a greater respect for rules. I am happy this family has closely examined everyone responsible and is pursuing them to the fullest extent so that this story doesn't repeat itself. Having to pursue multiple lawsuit would be physically and emotionally draining, but they are fighting to make sure we can all rest easy knowing our healthcare providers have taken the necessary steps to ensure our safety. We should be able to use healthcare to get better, not fear the worst.

verity 7 years, 2 months ago

No amount of money can ever make this anywhere near right---what would you do if it were you or your child?

mr_right_wing 7 years, 2 months ago

If things haven't changed since the 70s and 80s, the local school district is responsible for paying tuition to KSSB. So it most likely dosen't end at 50k.....

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